According to researcher IDC, tablet sales improved 78.4% worldwide in 2012 and are on track to improve 48.7% this year to 190 million units sold.

In data released this week, the firm also predicts that tablets will be the fastest-growing device category between now and 2017, outselling desktop PCs this year and laptops beginning in 2014. Overall, IDC expects the market for connected devices to grow 8.5% annually over the next five years, and that's despite slowing growth in PC sales.

"In emerging markets, consumer spending typically starts with mobile phones and, in many cases, moves to tablets before PCs," said Megha Saini, research analyst for IDC's Worldwide Smart Connected Device Tracker, in a press release. "The pressure on the PC market is significantly increasing and we can see longer replacement cycles coming into effect very soon and that, too, will put downward pressure on PC sales."


Other key findings and predictions from the report:

  • Worldwide, Apple claimed 20.3% of connected device shipments -- and 30.7% of revenue -- in the fourth quarter. Samsung was the volume leader and ranked second in revenue share.

  • Emerging markets led growth last year. Overall shipments rose 41.3% in 2012 while tablet shipments more than doubled. Smartphone sales improved 69.7% in emerging markets.

  • The worldwide market for connected devices grew 29.7% in 2012 and will advance 21.2% this year. By 2017, IDC predicts the total market will surpass 2.2 million devices sold, resulting in $814.3 billion in revenue.

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The article IDC: Tablets to Outsell Desktops This Year, Laptops Next originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the  Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home and portfolio holdings or connect with him on Google+Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a covered bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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